Carbon Equity, a British campaign for action on climate change, just came out with The Big Melt report, a review of all the 2007 literature and studies looking at the current condition of the Arctic ice.
According to the report "the Arctic sea ice is disintegrating 100 years ahead of schedule", having dropped 22% this year below the previous low, and it may completely disappear as early as the summer of 2013. This is far beyond the predictions of the International Panel on Climate Change.
Rob Hopkins, one of the blogs I regularly read, says
[The Big Melt] does not make for comfortable reading, and indeed it adds enormous urgency to to need to reduce emissions. It argues that to speak of 2 degrees being a safe threshold is nonsense, that we haven’t yet reached 1 degree, but already the Arctic ice is melting 100 years ahead of when the IPCC predicted it would.
Rob makes a point of posting positive, action-oriented info on his blog, which is why I read it. He is active internationally in helping communities prepare for peak oil and global warming. He named his post about The Big Melt "The Single Most Depressing Thing I Have Ever Read." That ought to warn you.
Sharon Astyk (another fovorite blogger) says about it: "If you are a sensitive sort, I strongly recommend reading it while clutching a teddy bear and having your back massaged."
Makes you want to dive right in, eh?
Here are a few highlights:
• Climate change impacts are happening at lower temperature increases and more quickly than projected.
• The Arctic’s floating sea ice is headed towards rapid summer disintegration as early as 2013, a century ahead of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections.
• The rapid loss of Arctic sea ice will speed up the disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet, and a rise in sea levels by as much as 5 metres by the turn of this century is possible.
• The Antarctic ice shelf reacts far more sensitively to warming temperatures than previously believed.
• Long-term climate sensitivity (including “slow” feedbacks such as carbon cycle feedbacks which are starting to operate) may be double the IPCC standard.
• Temperatures are now within ≈1°C of the maximum temperature of the past million years.
Are your eyes glazing over? Mine did.
Melting arctic ice affects more than just polar bears, who are having a rough time these days. A warmer Arctic will change global weather patterns and likely disrupt food production around the world. Melting glaciers and land-based ice sheets will contribute to rising sea levels, threatening low-lying areas with erosion, flooding, and contamination of freshwater supplies.
We all need to make personal changes to cut our carbon footprints, working toward 90% and we really need some leadership to instigate sweeping policy changes, and radical and inspired conservation efforts on a federal level. However, I'm not holding my breath waiting for that.
I'd like to hold my breathe today though. These wildfires sweeping southern California are giving us lots of smoke and particulate matter in the air, as well some spectacular sunsets and moonrises.
According to Tom Swetnam, fire ecologist at the University of Arizona, global warming has increased temperatures in the West about one degree and that has caused four times more fires. He and a team of top climate scientists also discovered a dramatic increase in fires high in the mountains, where fires used to be rare.
As the spring is arriving earlier because of warming conditions, the snow on these high mountain areas is melting and running off. So the logs and the branches and the tree needles all can dry out more quickly and have a longer time period to be dry. And so there's a longer time period and opportunity for fires to start.
Depressing huh? Sorry.
In the interest of promoting positive messages and ideas for action, I'll close with a link to the world's oldest blogger, Olive Riley. She lives near Syndey Australia and was born October 20th, 1899 - 108 years ago.
Her friend filmmaker Mike Rubbo decided to document Olive's personal stories with the blog, or "blob," as she calls it.
Mike says "Blogging is a fabulous way for all of us who have similar concerns to connect across national borders, cultural divides, and barriers of age so that we can achieve our common goals: a sustainable way of life; mutual respect even in the face of challenging differences; and, most significantly, a peaceful world. Surely a 108-year-old woman can benefit, and benefit us, by participating in our dialogue."
By her second post Olive was already making a point about the joys of buying local produce and the hazards of a political process gone wrong.